Arkansas Supreme Court Rules Adding Homosexuality to City Discrimination Ordinance Violates State Law

Photo Credit: George Hodan

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The Arkansas Supreme Court unanimously ruled on Thursday that a move to add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to a local discrimination ordinance violates state law.

Citizens in Fayetteville had voted in 2015 to approve an ordinance asserting that “[t]he right of an otherwise qualified person to be free from discrimination because of sexual orientation and gender identity is the same right of every citizen to be free from discrimination because of race, religion, national origin, gender and disability as recognized and protected by the Arkansas Civil Rights Act of 1993.”

But that same year, state legislators had first passed the Intrastate Commerce Improvement Act, which bans local municipalities from creating additional protected classes that are not already expressly cited in state law. The Arkansas Civil Rights Act does not mention “sexual orientation” or “gender identity.”

Therefore, the Fayetteville ordinance was challenged in court by the group Protect Fayetteville with support from Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. In March 2016, Washington County Circuit Judge Doug Martin upheld the measure as being permissible as the Arkansas Constitution mentions the classes in regard to anti-bullying, birth certificates and shelters for victims of domestic violence.

“Clearly, the classifications of gender identity and sexual orientation were classifications of persons protected on bases contained in state law prior to the enactment of Ordinance 5781,” Martin wrote. “As such, Ordinance 5781 does not create a protected classification on a basis not contained in state law and, therefore, the ordinance does not violate the plain meaning of the language used in the first prong of Act 137.”

Rutledge appealed, and on Thursday, the Arkansas Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the Fayetteville ordinance did indeed violate state law.

“In essence, Ordinance 5781 is a municipal decision to expand the provisions of the Arkansas Civil Rights Act to include persons of a particular sexual orientation and gender identity. This violates the plain wording of Act 137 by extending discrimination laws in the City of Fayetteville to include two classifications not previously included under state law,” it declared.

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“This necessarily creates a nonuniform nondiscrimination law and obligation in the City of Fayetteville that does not exist under state law,” the court said. “It is clear from the statutory language and the ordinance’s language that there is a direct inconsistency between state and municipal law and that the ordinance is an obstacle to the objectives and purposes set forth in the General Assembly’s Act and therefore it cannot stand.”

Fayetteville City Attorney Kit Williams told reporters that while he is disappointed with the ruling, he intends to work to have the prohibitive language in the Intrastate Commerce Improvement Act struck down as unconstitutional as the case was remanded back to Martin for further proceedings.

“They can’t, by not using express terms, accomplish the same result—which is truly what their intent was, which was to prevent the city from enacting protections for its gay and lesbian residents,” he told the Associated Press.

Rutledge simply posted on Twitter following the issuance of the Arkansas Supreme Court ruling, “Act 137 requires that discrimination protection be addressed at the state level and be uniform throughout the state.”


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  • Michael C

    Just in case you don’t understand what you’ve just read, Arkansas legislators actually passed a law to ensure that it would remain 100% legal in all of Arkansas for employers to fire employees, landlords to deny housing to people, and stores and restaurants to refuse service to customers just because they’re gay or transgender.

    In most of the country, it’s perfectly legal for businesses to deny employment, housing, and public accommodations to lgbt folk. Only a minority of states prohibit this type of discrimination. In some of the states that still allow discrimination against gay and trans men and women, a few cities have enacted their own ordinances to protect their lgbt citizens from discrimination within city limits. Apparently, Arkansas lawmakers wanted to make sure that it would remain 100% legal throughout the entire state to deny gay people of employment, housing, and public accommodations.

    • Amos Moses

      yeah ….. just in case ……..

      • Michael C

        Most people mistakenly believe that gay people are protected from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations in the same manner that you are protected as a Christian.

        Even my mom was under that impression. …and she’s Christian. …and she’s not stupid.

        • Amos Moses

          no … your assertion is that we could not understand what we just read ……. and you said so …….. so we all must be stupid …….

          “Just in case you don’t understand what you’ve just read, “

    • InTheChurch

      Mike, just out of curiosity, do you think the LGBT community is being denied their civil rights like the blacks?
      An employer would not know if you are gay unless you say so. Put your head down and work and no need to get fired. People would not know if you are gay, straight, racist or a mean person unless you are making it a point to point it out.
      I don’t make it a point to tell everyone that I am …….., I do my job, pay my rent, order and eat my food with no issues.
      Just you know, I am Hispanic. born in America. Good grades in school and two degrees. I was forced to play on one side of the playground because I was a “wetback”. So I know a little about hate.

      • Michael C

        I don’t believe that gay and transgender folk are systematically discriminated against in the way that Southern black citizens were pre-Civil Rights Act. But yes. Discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations simply on the basis of a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity does occur and I believe it shouldn’t (just as I believe that you should be protected from discrimination on the basis of your religion, race, sex, sexual orientation national origin, gender identity, color, etc.).

        Non-discrimination laws aren’t just about black people in the South. Christians are not systematically denied employment, housing, or public accommodations yet you are protected from such discrimination, anyway. If you pull up to your job with a WWJD bumper sticker on the back of your car, a cross around your neck, and read your bible in the break-room during lunch, your boss would not be permitted to fire you for these things.

        An employer would often not know that an employee was gay unless he or she happened to mention their spouse, had a picture of their family on their desk, or brought their spouse to a work function. These are all normal things that straight people do on a daily basis. I’ve met the spouses of all of my coworkers. It’s not like they’re trying to make it a point to tell everyone that they’re heterosexual. It’s not like they’re shoving their heterosexuality down my throat. Are you aware of any of your coworkers spouses? Gay people should not feel that they have to hide the fact that they’re gay from their employer at the risk of losing their jobs. Do you disagree with this?

        I hope that answers your question and here’s the big question I have for you; Given that businesses are prohibited from discriminating on the basis of a person’s race, religion, sex, color, etc., do you believe that it should be legal for businesses to fire someone, deny them housing, and refuse them service at stores and restaurants just because they’re gay or transgender?

        • InTheChurch

          they should not be discriminated against. I agree with you. It sucks that we are still being hated for skin color, last name, sexual orientation and the like. I work with gay people and I know and have met their partners. We work fine together. We leave that stuff at the door and get to work.
          (I work with a psychologist who is gay and he does not like the gay movement fighting for marriage. he is old school. He told me he wants it anti-church completely. He is not against it either but he will not fight for it. He wants only to live his life with his partner and be left the hell alone.) I go to him for all things LGBT. He is a great man and he tells it like it is.
          So it comes down to that boss and that company. Those people who want to hate. Not everyone is like that.

      • Jason Todd

        False comparison.

        • InTheChurch

          please explain

    • Jason Todd

      Actually, you are being intellectually dishonest.

      Most people don’t care what consenting adults do in the privacy of their own bedroom (Myself included.) But you are seeing the LGBTQW community bringing it out of the bedroom and putting it in our faces, demanding civil rights protections based solely and specifically on this, and then moving the goalposts until you get naked men marching on a public street in broad daylight.

      Let’s make this clear: Your behavior entitles you to zero. Zilch. Zip. Nada. If you don’t wish to be a “victim of discrimination” then keep your mouth shut.

      • antifasciste

        LGBTQ people would only be considered to be “putting it in your face” through the lense of your hetero centric privilege.

      • RWH

        The problem is the definition of “in our faces.” To a lot of people, it is even the very existence of people. This “in our faces” deprives people of housing, jobs, and eventually forces people into ghettos. The Jews in Europe know all about this. Hitler wasn’t the the first who deprived Jews the right to live and work where they pleased. So, sorry, you definition of “in our faces” most always implies ethnic cleansing. That is not an American value.

      • Michael C

        Most people don’t care what consenting adults do in the privacy of their own bedroom

        What on earth are you talking about?!

        Nobody here (but you) is talking about sex.

        • Jason Todd

          Stop being intellectually dishonest. You know good and well homosexuality is a behavior, NOT an “orientation.”

          You will not play that game here.

          • johndoe

            It’s not a game. It’s not a behavior either. Do you have any scientific proof of homosexuality be a behavior?

          • Royce E. Van Blaricome

            LOL!! Brilliant. Just briliant!! Another troll takes it upon himself to publicly show his utter ignorance.

            A wise man once said it is better to keep your mouth shut and not show your ignorance than open it and remove all doubt. You should work on your wisdom a bit.

            “Wise men speak because they have something to say, fools speak because they have to say something” – Plato

          • johndoe

            Thanks for the laugh!

          • Royce E. Van Blaricome

            You’re quite welcome. Your laughing at me pointing out that you think Homosexuality isn’t a BEHAVIOR and that there is a need for scientific proof of such is what you should really be laughing about.

            Because we are. LOL

          • johndoe

            Just plain old laughing at you!

          • Royce E. Van Blaricome

            Ditto!

          • johndoe

            Love it!

          • Royce E. Van Blaricome

            I’m sure you do. The day is coming though when you’ll love nothing again nor laugh ever again.

          • johndoe

            We all die sooner or later

          • Royce E. Van Blaricome

            Yup. And then Eternity begins. And the consequences for your choices in this life.

          • johndoe

            Nope. After death, nothing…..

          • Royce E. Van Blaricome

            Nope. After death, Eternity!

            No matter how long you deny it, no matter how much you repeat it, no matter how you try to characterize it, you are going to burn and be tormented FOREVER in the Lake of Fire because you have NOT surrendered as a slave to the Lord Jesus Christ but have instead chose to cling to your sins.

            I think it’s gonna go something like this:

            JD: “Lord, Lord, didn’t I….”
            Jesus: “Depart from me you Evil Doer who practiced lawlessness. I never knew you!”
            JD: “But Jesus, what is your explanation of grace?”
            Jesus: “Buh Bye!” Whoooooosh! JD is hurled into the fire in a nanosecond!!
            JD: “OUCH!! Oh, it burns!!! Oh oh oh oh…. Jesus, Jesus, JESUS… why do you insist on leaving me in this terrible place? I thought you were about Love? Oh, I know I denied you and rejected you. But You gave no case for to accept.

            Jesus? Jesus? JESUS? Where are you?

            Oh oh oh, I’m in so much torment!!!! The pain!!! The agony!!! Jesus, why won’t you answer me??? Why won’t you explain yourself to me? Oh oh oh the fires…”

          • johndoe

            LMAO! That old threat never fails to make me laugh!

          • Royce E. Van Blaricome

            I don’t laugh but it does make me smile when I think about you choking on those words for ALL Eternity and knowing that you’ll get justice one day.

            Oh, and btw, it’s not a threat. It’s a warning and a promise.

          • johndoe

            Is the thought of someone suffering one of those christian traits I didn’t learn about when I was active in the church?? Hmmmm

          • Royce E. Van Blaricome

            Absolutely! One of many obviously. Oh, and btw, being a spiritually-dead pew sitter doing whatever it was you were doing is hardly being “active in the church”.

  • Grace Kim Kwon

    American states are still alive! People must be protected from the forced endorsement of sexual sins. Skin colors and birth genders are different from sexual confusions and sexual sins. Western white people should halt their wrong immoral notions so that the slavery by installation of falsehood would not continue. Truth and religious freedom first.

    • RWH

      I get it. You want truth and religious freedom only for people who think just like you. It ain’t gonna happen in the United States. We see the injustices and persecution wrought by an enforced state church that must use the government to enforce its mandates instead of the power of persuasion.

      • Grace Kim Kwon

        You universalists should start reading the Holy Bible instead of ranting deadly falsehood. Western whites this century are over-doing the equality and civil rights movement. Sin is a slavery and has no equal rights with anything. Everyone has human rights to keep sane morality and live it out. Ex-christian Western culture prohibits sexual purity and it’s disasterously wrong. You guys are suffering from full-stomached boredom. Stop trying to enslave mankind with homosexuality. What a Sodom today’s West is. Listen to the Bible-preaching Christian leaders in your land. God decreed severe judgment upon Sodomic civilizations. Give children some break by giving them the truth. Read the Holy Bible to obtain life.

        • RWH

          More chatter from an outsider far, far away from some lofty perch, who knows nothing more than how to scream curses and damnation aimed at things she knows nothing about. I can guarantee that none of us are bored, not with the likes of screaming harpies from afar.

          • Grace Kim Kwon

            You really should stop bullying people on line. See your own rude manners of writing. Go to Asian websites and attack the dog-eating practices. I love America and write here as if America is my own homeland. According to your own definition, I’m American, too. Everyone on earth can claim to be American according to the liberals. No whining on that.

  • SFBruce

    Unfortunately, this ruling isn’t surprising. However, it’s important to note that the court didn’t expressly rule on the constitutionality of the 2015 law on which this decision is based. As this article reports, the city of Fayetteville is going to pursue having that law declared unconstitutional in the courts. Even if the state of Arkansas prevails in the short term, it’s only a matter of time before even very blue states like Arkansas join the 21st century regarding LGBT equality. Polls consistently show that younger people are strongly on our side, and that even includes Christian evangelical youth

  • TheKingOfRhye

    A point worth mentioning, I think…..the law isn’t about homosexuality, it’s about sexual orientation. That means, without a law like this, it’s perfectly legal to fire someone or deny them housing just because they’re heterosexual. Are we OK with that?

  • Royce E. Van Blaricome

    Well, whattaya know, a State Supreme Court that actually follows the law instead of making Law. WA State could learn a lesson from them! Now we just have to wait for all the hypocrites on here to start screaming about how wrong this is – all the while touting how the courts rulings have to be followed! LOL

    Now, while I don’t hold out a whole lotta hope I do hold out some that Trump will appoint a whole slew of judges that are Conservative and strict Constitutionalists who will stop the nonsense and get us back to some sense of common decency. Folks who can actually understand that one can NOT equate the color of one’s skin with sexually immoral BEHAVIOR.

    • Ambulance Chaser

      What do you believe the Washington Supreme Court did that was not “following the law?”

      • Royce E. Van Blaricome

        Nice try. Now go spit in the wind.

        • Ambulance Chaser

          Yes, how dare I ask you to defend your own position. How insane of me. I should have known that you have some special rights to make any assertion you want, no matter how uneducated, and have it go unchallenged. Forgive me, sir.

          • Royce E. Van Blaricome

            Nice try. But for the sake of all others, I’ve played AC’s game before. He’s not here for the truth so I don’t cast pearls. And don’t take my word for it. Just go back and look thru his posts.

          • Ambulance Chaser

            I’m very much looking for the truth, which is why I’m waiting for you to explain yourself. Because so far, all I see is a guy making comments about law without any indication that he understands what he’s talking about.

          • Royce E. Van Blaricome

            Great! Then you’d like to surrender as a slave to the Lord Jesus Christ as your Master? So you can pass from Death to Life, become a New Creation, and have eyes that can actually see?

          • Ambulance Chaser

            So, anyway, getting back on topic, please explain what you think the Washington State Supreme Court got wrong in the Arlenes Flowers case?

          • Royce E. Van Blaricome

            So, anyway, just as I thought. You lied. Get back with me when you really do wanna know the truth. Until then, I’ll obey Christ and not cast my pearls before swine.

          • Ambulance Chaser

            You seem to keep confusing “people saying things you disagree with” and “lying.” Do you seriously believe that every person who disagrees with you is a liar? Because if so, that would be incredibly arrogant.

          • Royce E. Van Blaricome

            You seem to keep confusing truth and reality with confusion. You question is based on a false assumption so not worthy of an answer. You did lie. You said, “I’m very much looking for the truth” and then within minutes rejected it.

            Now go play somewhere else. I have no more time for you. Get back with me when you’d like to know the Truth and mean it.

          • Ambulance Chaser

            Who says your religion is truth? I don’t think it is, and that doesn’t make me a liar, it makes me a person who disagrees with you.

          • Royce E. Van Blaricome

            God does. And I do because I agree with Him. And while disagreeing with me may not make you a Liar, rejecting what you said does. See Rev. 21:8 and you might see where that will land you.

          • TheKingOfRhye

            You really enjoy not answering simple questions that you bring up with your own comments, don’t you?

          • Royce E. Van Blaricome

            You seem confused. I did answer it. Those who have eyes to see know that.

          • TheKingOfRhye

            No, you never addressed his question. Or at least, you didn’t address his question in his terms, how he looks at it. I think that’s a thing both of our sides could probably do a little better at…look at his question through his eyes.

          • Royce E. Van Blaricome

            No, I actually did. Directly. His terms & how he looks at it is the problem. His. Not mine. But I do agree with your premise on that being one thing we could do better. I hope you realize though that AC and his ilk really have no desire to understand or know the truth. Truthfully, I really have no idea what they expect to accomplish on here. I’m pretty well convinced it’s exactly what you find in the definition of “Internet Troll”.

            What makes you think you were a Christian “at one time”?

          • TheKingOfRhye

            What makes me a Christian at one time, you ask? Well, because I was (loosely) raised as one.

          • Royce E. Van Blaricome

            Ah, thanks for clearing that up. So let me be crystal clear. God does NOT have any grandchildren. Being raised as a Christian does NOT make one a Christian. By that very testimony of your own words you were NEVER a Christian.

            And that’s good news!! That means there is still hope for you!! For God has said that those who have tasted of the Heavenly Gift and rejected it are doomed forever. So you can still confess and repent.

            Would you like to surrender to Christ as a slave and receive Him as your Lord and Master? Would you like to confess your sins To God and ask Him to save you from your sins? Would you like to become a New Creation in Christ and be given a new heart to follow and serve Him?

            If so, I’d be happy to walk you thru that process.

          • TheKingOfRhye

            You know something….I kinda agree with you on one thing. That being, I was never really a Christian. I never really believed. How does that make a difference, though, if as you say, I wanted to “repent” and such? You said “there’s still hope for me.”. Is there less hope or no hope for me then, if I actually was a Christian then disbelieved?

            Don’t get me wrong now, I’m not interested in your pitch, I’m just wondering how this works. It would take a lot more than listening to a ” Jack Chick tract” come to life.

          • Royce E. Van Blaricome

            Yes, Hebrews tells of those who have tasted of the Heavenly gift and then deserted it.

            “For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.” (Heb. 6:4-6)

            I’m not asking you to be interested in “my pitch”. I’m asking if you are interested in Eternal Life. I’m asking if you are interested in being all you can be as God created you to be. I’m asking if you are interested in surrendering as a slave to Jesus Christ as your Master so that He can lead you into the abundant life that He desires for you.

            And yes, it would take a lot more than listening to a “Jack Chick tract” come to life. It would take you surrendering your will to that of Jesus for you to come to life.